Takeaways from Jaguars 24-6 loss to San Diego


photo by Bobby King

by Cole Pepper
October 20, 2013

The Jaguars fell to 0-7 on the season with a 24-6 loss to the Chargers Sunday in Jacksonville. Here are my takeaways from the game:

Offense looked better playing the short game-Despite the lack of touchdowns, the Jaguars short passing game was efficient. Chad Henne finished 23 of 36 for 318 yards (his second consecutive 300 yard passing game). He averaged a respectable 8.8 yards per attempt, and especially through the first three quarters, was very accurate. Having Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis all on the field together for the first time this year appeared to help, with the exception of two dropped touchdown passes by Shorts.

Pass Protection issues-The Jaguars rarely looked to throw deep, and when they did, Henne was under pressure. The Chargers sacked Henne six times on the game, including twice on 4th down plays. Last week, the Jaguars pass protection performed better against the Broncos.

Jaguars still can’t stop the tight end-It’s been an issue all year, and against Antonio Gates, you would expect some struggles. However, the Jaguars also saw Ladarius Green make some big plays, including a 27 yard catch, when he ran past linebacker Geno Hayes.

Andre Branch is going to get a look-Sticking with my theory of this being a 16-week preseason for the Jaguars, Andre Branch continues to get more snaps as the season goes on. He routinely lined up opposite Jason Babin and with Tyson Alualu and Sen’Derrick Marks at defensive tackle. Much like the evaluation of the quarterbacks, evaluating the pass rushers (especially young ones) is going to be vital for the Jaguars as they prepare their off-season plan looking forward to 2014. I would also suspect that at some point, Jordan Todman is going to get more carries at running back, for the same reason.

Jaguars scoring offense at home has been awful-In the opener against Kansas City, the Jaguars managed only 2 points on a safety. Against Indianapolis, it was a field goal. Sunday against the Chargers, the Jaguars totaled only six points. For a team trying to inspire modest interest in ticket sales, the product on the field isn’t doing enough.

Play of the Game (Jaguars version)-As the third quarter wound down, the Chargers faced 3rd and goal from the 3. Philip Rivers ran a tight end shovel pass to Antonio Gates who was hit and fumbled (or so the replay showed). One official initially called it a fumble, recovered by the Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien, but he was overruled by the other officials. Gus Bradley, who at the end of the first half had failed to call a timeout to give the booth time to review a play, challenged the play. The officials reviewed it, and despite clear evidence that Gates had fumbled, did not reverse the call. It was the worst of a bad day of calls by the zebras.

Player of the Game (Jaguars version)-Chad Henne. Hard to say that on a team that didn’t scores a touchdown, but Henne looked in control of the offense the entire game. He wasn’t perfect (he was picked off in the the 4th quarter), but by and large, Henne was solid. When a solid player is the player of the game, you have issues.

Podcast: Cole and Sam Discuss the Jaguars QB Battle

Our midweek podcast addressing the question: who should start at quarterback for the Jaguars in the second preseason game against the Jets? Also, talk about how much work Maurice Jones-Drew and Justin Blackmon need in the preseason. Enjoy.

What’s Important Tonight for Jaguars vs. Dolphins

Brad Meester and the rest of the Jaguars starting offensive line will work with both Chad Henne and the starter Blaine Gabbert tonight. (photo by Bobby King)

by Cole Pepper
August 9, 2013

The Jaguars open the preseason tonight against the Miami Dolphins. Here are the eight most important things to watch:

  1. 1s vs. 1s-Final scores of preseason games are meaningless. However, it can be valuable to keep an eye on how the first team does against the opponents first team. Often, the score is not indicitave of how things went. You must use your eyes.
  2. Offensive Line-Regardless of who is under center, the Jaguars line must do a better job of pass protection. In camp, there have been signs that protection will be improved. There was a decent amount of pressure in last Saturday’s scrimmage, so we’ll keep an eye on how the first team line especially holds up against Miami’s pass rush. That being said, don’t expect to see much in the way of exotic pressures from the Dolphins, even though this is their second preseason game, having played last week in the Hall of Fame game against the Cowboys.
  3. Quarterbacks-This is certainly the top story line of camp, but its looking more an more like it will be Blaine Gabbert. Not because he’s been spectacular, he just been pretty good, maybe a step better than Chad Henne. I believe, as most do, that Henne would have to substantially outplay Gabbert to get the starting job. That being said, if he performs in games, Henne will be given the chance. Gabbert starts, but both will play behind the starting offensive line.
  4. Which receiver steps up? Justin Blackmon (groin) and Cecil Shorts (calf) will not play. That means that there will be plenty of opportunities for the likes of Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Jordan Shipley, Mohamed Massaquoi, Toney Clemons, et al to flash. So far, Sanders and Brown have been the best of that bunch. How many receivers will the Jaguars keep? Probably six, but one or two of those spots may be determined by the ability to contribute on special teams.
  5. Pass Rush-Can someone other than Jason Babin get to the quarterback? Gus Bradley said this week that he wouldn’t blitz much, if at all in this first game. He’s looking for defensive linemen to win one on one battles.
  6. Deep Coverage-Particularly when Mike Wallace is in there, how will the Jaguars hold up? Gus Bradley’s defense features a lot more press coverage than the Jaguars have run in the past which is a risk-reward approach. They risk giving up a big play deep, but the reward is that it could lead to sacks if the coverage is tight early in the play.
  7. Returns-Its tough to simulate the adrenaline rush of the return game when you aren’t going to be tackled. Its always interesting to see who can handle kicks and punts in this first preseason game.
  8. Gus Bradley’s demeanor-I sensed a little bit of tightness for the first time from Bradley on Thursday. He’s never been a head coach and this will be his first game in that role. Will his energy and enthusiasm remain? I suspect so, but it will be worth watching to see how he behaves on the sideline.

What the Scrimmage Will Mean This Time Next Week

All in all, the Jaguars enjoyed a positive Saturday night during the annual scrimmage. (photo by Bobby King)

by Cole Pepper
August 4, 2013

The Jaguars Saturday night scrimmage drew a team-estimated 19,000 fans to EverBank Field. What did we learn and how much will it matter next week when the Jaguars will have had their first preseason game in the books?

For head coach Gus Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell, it will matter. For fans, it will matter less.

Scrimmage Crowd
The Jaguars estimated over 19,000 people attended Saturday night’s scrimmage. (photo by Cole Pepper)

That being said, here’s what we learned Saturday night:

Even without the chance to hit the quarterback, the pass rush has the potential to be at least adequate. Jason Babin and Sen’Derrick Marks showed up in the pass rush. Marks turned in two straight disruptive plays at one point. Clearly, the Jaguars will need more than those two guys, but to this point in camp, Babin had been limited and nobody else was getting consistent pressure against the first team offensive line.

Speaking of the offensive line, Luke Joeckel continues to be solid. There was one play where a defender beat him around the end, but it appeared that Denard Robinson was supposed to chip on the pass rusher and did not, leading to pressure on the quarterback. Joeckel may be more comfortable at left tackle still, but he’ll be just fine at right tackle and he’ll be the starter from day one.

Robinson showed off his speed during a kickoff return for a touchdown and Ace Sanders brought the crowd to its feet on a punt return, but remember, there was no threat of being tackled. This was a ‘thud” practice. Still, you can see the potential. I want to see more, especially when the coverage teams arrive with bad intentions.

Sanders was not just a star in the return game, he continues to catch everything that’s thrown his way at wide receiver. If he can continue to do that, the Jaguars may have found their slot receiver and guy who can make a difference offensively.

Rookie Ace Sanders continues to open eyes at Jaguars training camp
Rookie Ace Sanders continues to open eyes at Jaguars training camp. (photo by Bobby King)

It was good to see Marcedes Lewis be sent into the pass pattern. On a goal-line play, Lewis caught a corner route for a touchdown. The improvement of the offensive line should allow Lewis to be used more in the passing game. The Jaguars hope that trend continues.

I thought both Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne looked better. Not great, but decent. The Jaguars will take that for now. It’s a step in the right direction. I believe that Gabbert is still leading the competition (although the coaches aren’t saying), but he hasn’t distanced himself from Henne to assure the outcome. In a perfect world, the Jaguars would know who their starter will be by the third preseason game, so he can get the most important preseason snaps with the first team.

All in all, it was a good night for the Jaguars all around. A great crowd, solid performances from some areas that need to be better and plenty to build on.

Then again, I might totally change my mind this time next week.